Chapter Fifty-Four: Mend and Tear
I groan as Eric’s phone begins to ring, and he stops suckling my nipple to answer it. “Yes, Master,” he mumbles into the phone and tears a giggle from my lips as he nuzzles against my throat. “Oh? Is that right?” He pulls away again and I frown at being ignored. We’re supposed to be celebrating! I remind him of this by grabbing his cock with my hand and stroking it rather pointedly. He looks down at me with his devilish smile. “Yes, she is,” he laughs as he reaches for my hand that’s stroking him and makes me let him go. “Yes, she is,” he laughs harder and kisses my fingertips. “When will he be here?” he asks and then drops my hand. “Fine,” he sounds and feels a bit put out.
“What’s up?” I ask when Eric sets down his phone and crawls off the bed.
“Quigley is on his way over to have a talk,” Eric replies as he starts throwing clothing at me.
“Why do I have to get dressed?” I groan, but still start pulling my clothes on.
“Because you are the one he is coming over to talk to,” Eric answers in exasperation; not with me, but at being interrupted. I can sympathize.
“What do I have to talk to him about?” I frown as I start smoothing out my sex tousled hair.
Eric begins pulling on his own clothes, “What do you know about Quigley?”
I shrug as I shimmy back into my pants. Oh, how long will these fit me!? There’s a bit of dread and excitement that jolts through me at the thought.
“I know he was the Knot in Diedre and Cassandra’s Binding Ceremony,” I answer as I realize I forgot to put my bra on and strip my shirt back off. “So, losing Cassandra was a real big deal for him too.” There you are! I snatch my bra from the dresser and latch it behind my back.
“Quigley was a priest before he was turned,” Eric tells me and I pause a moment before pulling my shirt back on.
“They turned a priest? Dang, that must have been hard for him to reconcile at first,” I frown thoughtfully. A part of me begins to recognize what Eric is trying to tell me.
“It was,” Eric agrees. “We were made around the same time, and Quigley took quite a beating from the vampires of the era, as well as from myself.”
“You beat up Quigley?” I ask in surprise.
Eric laughs and shakes his head, “Only a little. It is normal for vampires of similar age groups to fight each other. It helps Makers to determine the inherent speed, strength and abilities of their progeny. Quigley had very little of any of that despite his overall appearance. He did, however, have something the vampire community looked down on him for, and that was empathy.”
“Doesn’t everyone have some form of empathy?” I tease as we head to the sitting room.
“Quigley was an empath,” Eric stresses. “It was what made him an ideal candidate as the Knot in the Binding Ceremony. When he became vampire, the empathic ability became much stronger. He became known as a bit of a lie detector, which many people were unhappy about. They felt that Diedre was arming herself with too many advantages and abilities. She had Cassandra and Quigley, and she was a revered Ancient.”
“I thought she was straight up the oldest vampire existing?” I frown.
“Not at that time. A thousand years ago, she was the third oldest vampire in existence,” he tells me. “Her superiors met the sun over several hundred years ago. She has been the oldest vampire since I was still a fledgling.”
“Oh,” I frown as I take my spot on the sofa. Eric pulls my legs onto his lap and starts playing with my toes. I wiggle them at him in a little wave that makes him smile. “What is Quigley coming to talk to me about?”
My husband pauses a moment before replying, “Reconciling.”
I frown as well when Eric confirms what I already suspected. “I’ve been a lot better…” I point out. Ever since the family reunited, I’ve definitely felt much less lost.
“You have,” he agrees and plants a kiss on the top of my foot, “but maybe there are ways that he can help you feel more than just better?”
Eric’s words echo in me as my hand goes to my belly. I really want to find some spiritual foothold before I become a mother. When we infiltrated the Fellowship of the sun last month, that hadn’t been a lie. I want to raise my child with some sort of faith…
My thoughts are interrupted when there’s a knock at the door. Eric rises quickly and goes to let Quigley inside. He really doesn’t look like a priest. He’s broad and trim, like a woodsman who chops lumber all day. He’s got the big, bushy beard to match, too!
“Hello there,” Quigley greets me as he comes to the sitting room. “Hope I’m not interrupting too much.”
“Not at all,” I reply politely even if I feel that he is interrupting. “Would you like a blood? It’s Genuine,” I offer while simultaneously beginning to rise. We keep blood for Jason because he still needs to feed more regularly than the rest of the family.
“No, thank you,” Quigley smiles and sits down across from me. “According to Godric, I am interrupting, and want to keep this short for tonight.” My face burns a little bit, but only because I get a little annoyed when Godric noses in on my sex life. “Godric felt it was important that you and I have a sit down, though. I hear you’ve been having a tough time adapting your beliefs with all the new information you’ve been given over the years.”
I can’t help but bristle a little bit, but it eases when Eric comes over, places a hand on my shoulder and kisses the side of my head. “I will be in my office if you need me,” he says, politely excusing himself even though privacy from ancients in a single building is only a courteous illusion. It took me our entire first year of being Bonded to stop running the water whenever I used the bathroom.
“So,” I turn to Quigley, unable to hide how uncomfortable I am, “how does this work?”
“How does what work?” Quigley leans back, making himself comfortable. He fiddles with an unlit cigarette, but I’m glad to see he doesn’t light it.
I stare at him a moment before asking, “Aren’t you going to go into some story or explanation?”
Quigley shakes his head, “No, I want to know what about your faith doesn’t make any sense to you now.”
A frown tugs my lips downward as I think about this, “Seeing my faith put down my relationship with my husband. Being told that my brother, my husband and my friends are evil, but knowing that they are good and full of love and compassion-”
“Sookie,” Quigley takes my hand comfortingly, “it is not your faith that you are questioning. It is your religion. They are not one in the same thing. You can have faith without religion, you can draw strength from God without a church.”
“How did you find a way of doing that?” I ask him. After all, it must have been more difficult for a priest turned vampire than someone like me.
Quigley gives one of those tilted smiles that, again, makes him look more like a lumberjack than a priest. “Let’s see,” Quigley brings his cigarette to his lips and begins stroking his beard, “first I was very angry. I hated Cassandra and Diedre for turning me into a monster. Cassandra had told me quite pointedly that they had turned me into a vampire, and it was my decision whether or not to become a monster.
“Then, after a while,” he continued, “as they used me as the conduit they intended me to be, I could feel the desperation of their love for one another. It made me wonder why Satan would make creatures capable of such love. Then I began to wonder if vampires weren’t actually creatures of God, and if they were, then maybe they were more like man than I realized. Perhaps, like man, vampires could become good or evil.”
“So,” I begin slowly, “how did you resolve your beliefs around all of that?”
“Well,” Quigley replies, rolling the unlit cigarette between his teeth, “first, I went a little wild. I never had, y’know. I fucked around, I committed sins I’d abhorred as a human, but I maintained my commitment that I would never kill unless my own existence was in jeopardy. I promised that I would keep the Ten Commandments in highest regard, and to this day I have. A thousand years is a long time not to take the Lord’s name in vain, especially with what I’ve seen. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy is difficult too,” he says thoughtfully. “All the others, killing, coveting… They were easy to obey because they meant something to me.”
“But your beliefs,” I stress.
Quigley smiles, “Reach for Him for strength when no worldly source will do. Show Him respect at all times and show that same respect to His creations. It’s that simple Sookie. The words of man that surround His message are what are confusing you. Don’t focus so hard on the words of man. Only have ears for the words of God.”
“What about when the ones I love don’t follow the word of God?” I ask meekly. This has been my greatest problem.
The former priest grins at me like my question is not all that difficult, “Judge not lest thee be judged.”
My jaw slackens at the most simple explanation in the world is given to me. Quigley is right. It is not my responsibility, let alone my right to pass judgment on others. God only asks that I extend my love and compassion toward them.
“Northman does right by his beliefs,” Quigley goes on. “You aren’t trying to save his soul, are you?”
“No,” I reply slowly, and this boulder of guilt begins rolling off my chest. Pam, Camilla and Eric had managed to chip away some of the boulder’s weight over the years, but it isn’t until this moment as Quigley’s words strike me to my core that the boulder crumbles and rolls away entirely. I am free of my fears and worries. I know the type of person I am, and the type of mother I want to be. I know how I want to raise my children in faith and not necessarily religion.
There is only one last thing I need Quigley to help me reconcile.
“And what about the fact that I felt the murders Eric and Godric have committed were justified?” I finally utter when I find my words.
Another tender, sympathetic smile tugs at the vampire’s mouth, “If we could help how we felt about everything, we wouldn’t need religion and law to keep us in line, now would we? It is not a sin to think bad things; it is only a sin to act upon them. The church condemned dangerous thoughts because dangerous thoughts were believed to lead to dangerous action. I can promise you that even as a human priest, I experienced my fair share of sinful thoughts. They were flashes in a pan, as they came they went, and that is what you should try to do. Don’t dwell on dark thoughts. Don’t worry over what having those thoughts mean. Simply let them run through your mind and be gone.”
“Is it really that simple?” I ask breathlessly.
“God’s message has always been simple, Lass. It’s man that went and complicated everything,” Quigley laughs and pats my hand. He leans back to play with his unlit cigarette some more, and leaves me to my thoughts a moment.
I don’t even notice when silent tears roll down my cheeks
“You all right?” Quigley asks knowingly as he hands me a a tissue from the box on the coffee table.
I take the tissue and blot at the little rivers winding down my cheeks. “Yes,” I tell him simply.
With one last smile, Quigley stands up and smooths out his shirt, “Well, I’m glad I could be of service. If you ever need anything, I’m always happy to be of help. I’ll let you get back to your evening,” He gives me a playful wink and shows himself out.
As I watch him go, it’s like the last of my worries are swept out the door with him.
As Sookie has her meeting with Quigley, I can feel her heart lightening. Despite her continued protests, I can feel Quigley’s words penetrating her doubts. Finally, her fears and concerns are being resolved.
Unfortunately, as she unravels the complicated knots of her soul, I am unraveling the uncomplicated theory of our conception date. It does not take a fool to notice a rather coincidental parallelism between the Ancient Pythoness’s Final Death and the week that Sookie and I most likely conceived our first child.
The ancient part of me finds this to be a nicely wrapped gift to Diedre. She is being given the opportunity to not only reunite with her soulmate and be given the Bond she has longed for over the past two thousand and a half years, but also the opportunity to become part of our bloodline. I do not see why she would not receive the same gifts as the rest of us if she were to Bond to my child.
However, the father in me is aghast at the idea. Not because I wish for anything less than a Bond for my child, but because of the age. If we find some way to confirm Sookie is indeed carrying the reincarnation of Cassandra, what sort of boundary could that cause in raising our baby? I could not care less about the future sex or age difference that I am certain will bring Sookie unease, but the idea of Diedre looming behind us brings me dread. If she tries to insert herself in the raising of our child; that is not something I could be enthusiastic about.
If only there were a way to confirm it, I think in annoyance. Even if I could summon Endymion and ask, he would not tell me. He would wear his usual blank, professional face and tell me that the matter of souls and their futures was no concern of mine. Destiny has its own consort, and it is not meant to be tampered with by the likes of me. If only I knew of another Seer, I think with annoyance. Even if Camilla’s divining skills were more prominent, she would still have a difficult time determining the origin of my child’s soul. However, Camilla has currently focused most of her magical studies on enchantments rather than divination.
“Eric?” My wife’s voice floats into the office and I look up to see her smiling at me.
“Yes, Sookie?” I push away from my desk as she approaches me and smile as she bends down to kiss my lips. “You are feeling better.”
“I am,” she agrees as she crawls onto my lap and twists her fingers against the short hairs at the nape of my neck. “I feel at peace.”
“I am glad,” I kiss her temple as my arms wrap around her.
“You were thinking awful hard about something when I came in here,” she states quietly against my throat.
I pause a moment. There is no point in bringing up my suspicions. They are merely that. Suspicions. “There is much to think about with a baby on the way.”
“Yeah,” she agrees with a sigh. “Quigley’s gone.”
Sookie pulls away to smile at me. It is a smile I have not seen in a while. Her smile is almost shy. “Want to keep celebrating?”
My reply is to grin at her and dive in for another kiss. As her mouth molds to mine, my computer dings with a new email. Reflexively, my eyes glance over Sookie’s shoulder at the letter’s summary.
DETAIL: FELIPE DE CASTRO RE-ENTERING USA. NY. 10:45PM EST 4/7/09…
Fuck! Sookie pulls away at my abrupt shift in mood and looks over her shoulder as the email leaves the corner of the screen.
“What happened?” my wife asks.
“I have to go,” I tell her quickly as I simultaneously lift Sookie from my lap and head for our bedroom. My cell phone is out, and I am calling Godric.
“What is it Eric?” My Maker sounds just as confused as my wife.
“De Castro was the Big Mark,” I tell him quickly as I throw together a bag of necessities. “De Castro will be arriving in New York in two hours, and I have to meet him in case an assassination attempt is still in the works.”
“What are you talking about?” Godric demands.
“Compton just sent me an email verifying that de Castro is arriving in New York tonight from out of the country,” I tell him as I shoulder my bag.
My Maker is silent, and so is my wife as I pass her outside our bedroom door. She has heard enough to know what is happening.
“I will go to Vegas with Jason and-”
“Not Sookie,” I interrupt. There is no chance in hell I am letting my pregnant wife do reconnaissance. If the trap for Felipe is in Vegas, I do not want her caught in the middle of it.
“Not Sookie,” Godric agrees, and by the tone, I can easily guess that he is aware that my wife is now carrying our child. “I was going to suggest Sookie and Pam come stay here with Camilla, Diedre and Quigley.”
I would rather Sookie stay home, but then she would feel obligated to play hostess. Silently I send for Pam in our Link, and Sookie looks at me in confusion. I pull the phone from my lips and turn to Sookie. “Pack an overnight bag to take to Camilla’s. Pam will be by shortly to take you there-”
“Eric,” she whispers and I can feel her frustration and concern. She wants me to stop and talk to her. She wants me to explain what exactly is happening, but there is no time because Pam is already pulling onto our street.
“I am leaving now,” I tell Godric and end the call.
“Eric, please, just give me thirty seconds,” Sookie pleads as she grabs my arm.
Stopping in my tracks, I turn and cup Sookie’s chin in my palm. I lean in and kiss her. “After this, Sookie, it is just you, me and the baby. No more intrigue, no more espionage, and no more vampire politics. At least until he starts school,” I end with teasing.
“Be safe,” Sookie tells me and hugs me tight. “I don’t want to go through more of this than I have to without you. I want to share it all with you, Eric. Don’t make me do any of this alone.”
“I will be back soon,” I promise. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she tells me and lunges in for one last kiss before Pam comes through the door.
Without another word, I walk past Pam, go out the door and take off into the sky. Sookie knows enough to bring Pam up to speed.
I cannot remember the last time I flew like this. With our identities concealed from the humans, there is little room to risk performing supernatural feats. Vampires being out of the coffin gives less room for us to hide behind the word, “absurd!” when we are caught doing impossible things.
I wonder if Sookie will be able to contain the news of our pregnancy until I return? I really wish to be present when she tells the family, but that dream might not come true. With her staying at Camilla’s home, it might be an unavoidable conversation. Especially if she develops more symptoms before I return. The women have not had any sort of illness since the bloodline was formed and joined. Will Sookie experience pregnancy symptoms the same way as human women? Fairy women?
All of these questions are pondered as I fly east, toward New York. It kills time, and also gives me the chance to create a mental list of questions for Ludwig. Then again, I remember, this pregnancy is already varying from the one the alternate version of us experienced. When that Sookie became fertile, the whole supernatural community knew about it. I chuckle at the memory of Ludwig telling the story from the notes. The look on my Sookie’s face had been priceless when Ludwig had explained the circumstances to us. She had looked scandalized by the idea of every supernatural within a five mile radius being able to smell her, and the fact that her presence alone during that time could ignite an orgy.
I had found it hilarious.
Now that I am thinking about both my wife and New York, I cannot prevent the smothering sense of dread enclosing around my heart. My mind flutters from scenario to scenario. What once prepared me for any outcome in battle is now nearly paralyzing me with possibilities.
What if I am captured? What if I am injured or disfigured like Diedre? Will the first time I hold my child be with one arm?
I shake off the concerns. The remaining FotS who stayed undiscovered during the raid on the Dallas Headquarters could not hope to delay me, let alone hold me captive. Their small, hate filled minds could not even comprehend a creature like me.
Then again, if they intend to use bombs, I could be slowed down or even halted. Being blown apart will not kill me, but it will certainly stop me in my tracks!
Suddenly I feel Sookie’s love welling up inside of me like a blanket that could banish any cold. She can feel my unease, I suppose, and is trying to bring me comfort before I fulfill my mission. A part of me feels ashamed to need that love and encouragement, but another part that Sookie has nurtured over the years feels relief. The relief of not having to go anywhere alone ever again. Even as I keep miles safely between us, Sookie is with me, whispering to me about her love and devotion. She is a cradle for my heart, keeping it safe and comfortable as my body goes forth to do what it must.
I land in New York City, several miles from the airport so as not to raise suspicion. There are few places to come back to earth unseen in the cities, which is why I have always tried to live on the outskirts rather than directly within them.
I hale a cab to take me the rest of the way and use my phone to once again check the information Compton had forwarded me. 10:45PM EST; GATE 42; ANUBIS AIRLINES.
“Picking up?” The cabby asks.
“Yes,” I reply distractedly as I punch a text out to Sookie to tell her of my arrival in the city.
“Friend, wife, girlfriend?” he tries to wheedle conversation out of me.
“Associate,” I answer. “The asshole could die and I would not care, but it would be bad for business.”
The cab driver laughs at my honest reply. It is honest. I have no interest in Felipe de Castro’s welfare, but if another ancient is killed by the humans a full out war could be sparked. Forget that the ones leading the attacks are extremists, and forget that they are the fragments of an organization my family has already brought down. No, if another ancient is lost to human hands, there will be outrage, and even more horrific acts of violence bestowed upon the humans.
When we arrive at the airport, I pay the driver with a fifty and do not bother with my change. Instead, I storm into the building as his gratitude is shouted across the busy drop off area.
I spare several glances at my watch as I maintain my well trained human speed toward Gate 42. My brisk walk makes a few people glance at me, and I suppose my grim expression does not ease their curiosity. It is a canter that clips the very edge of normal and murmurs suspiciously about the unnatural. There is still a glimmer of doubt, a possibility that I am a man who has trained myself to walk at such speeds. Whatever an onlooker’s concern may be, they say nothing and return to preparing for their own departures.
At 10:30, I arrive at Gate 42, and I force myself to take a seat until the plane’s arrival is announced on the board. It is currently listed as ‘On Time’. I take these moments to analyze the points of attack.
Whatever the plan is, it could be coordinated anywhere between here and Nevada. If I were those Zealots, I would plan my attack for New York. Felipe will not have a home court advantage, and have less safe havens to retreat to.
But how are they going to blitz a three thousand year old vampire? I wonder as my precious preparation time ticks away.
I glance at the arrivals board and then at the clock. 10:37 is what it is telling me, but the board is saying Felipe’s flight is arriving presently. Shit, I am already out of time!
Rising to my feet, I head towards the gate and glance about. No one is within five feet of the gate. The attendant opens the door and many vampires file out. Why was Felipe on a commercial Anubis flight? He is a Regent, and a lavish one at that.
Several vampires glance at me, but continue on to their connecting gates. Some pause to get their bearings, as Anubis is still a relatively new airline. Finally, Felipe comes to my field of vision. Like the other vampires he rode with, Felipe stares at me, but it is different. I am being sized up. He is looking at me like an obstacle or an enemy. He is waiting to see what I do. He thinks I am here to detain him? I wonder as I take a step toward him.
Felipe leans away as if to bolt the opposite direction. As he does, a smell hits me. It seems to hit all of us supernaturals at the same time. It is a sickeningly sweet scent, and I see a Were security guard several gates down tilt back his head and suddenly snap his gaze to a rather stiff looking human. The Were is running toward the human when that familiar sweetness is finally recognized.
They are bombing the damned gate! I think in alarm as I race toward the human.
In that moment, my eyes take in many things. There is not one lone human with the resigned look of death in their eyes. There is one at the gates of several Anubis lines. Stopping one will do nothing. I cannot stop what is about to happen.
If I can only spare half the casualties, I think with determination as I lunge toward the human and reveal my vampire speed and flight. I scoop them up by the collar of the vest.
With only moments to spare, I am a torpedo down the aisle. One, two, three, three of the bombers in my grasp. That is how many I manage to get a hold of before their watches begin to beep. I hope that it is their signal to be in position.
Five more seconds, I bargain with myself or maybe even some God as I stop for nothing and burst upward through the ceiling. Four, three… Like a guided missile, I soar into the night sky. Up, up, and awaaaay, I say in my mind as I clear the tower and fling the bombers even higher over my head.
Two, one, I finish counting down, and as if my instincts were right or a Higher Power heard me, the bombs explode. Unfortunately, the blast manages to knock me back, and I feel my body being propelled once more to the earth.
I miss the hole I created in the ceiling and make another one upon my descent. If I had any wind to be knocked out of me it would have taken a decade to get it back.
Climbing back to my feet, I survey the damages. Apparently I had missed two of the bombers. Two gates on opposite ends of the airport are in smoldering ruins, but are quickly dying from the emergency sprinkler system. Calmly I walk toward the ruined area that had been behind me. At least I had chosen wisely and launched ahead instead of behind. I would have only prevented one enclosed explosion instead of three.
As I approach the charred remains of gate 40, another Anubis gate, I think with grim understanding, I see Felipe de Castro in a state similar to the gate. He is scorched, but has sustained nowhere near the damage he would have if I had not intercepted the bomber closest to us.
“This is why you came here,” Felipe says as I approach him. He is talking low, barely audible above the wails and cries that are filling the airport like a tragic opera.
“Why did you think I came here?” I ask as I crouch down beside him, assessing the damage. I scuttle a few yards back when I realize that he is not as injured as he is acting. He wants you within striking distance, I warn myself.
Felipe does not reply to my question. Instead he stares up at the holes I made in the ceiling.
“You saved my existence,” he finally says. “I owe you for that.”
“I tried to save as many as possible,” I reply darkly. Strange connections are firing in my mind. Things that did not add up before are starting to create two different sums. Because there were two different conspirators trying to hide their intentions in the same place, I determine.
Phones begin to ring all throughout the airport. Inside and out, I hear phones. Apparently the bombing has already reached the media. Loved ones are calling from all across the country, all across the world to make sure their brother, their sister, their mother or father are well. Spouses are being called by their wives and husbands. Sons and daughters and calling their mommies and daddies.
I close my eyes and listen for a moment, catching reassuring sobs, but aching at the phones that ring and ring without answer. For all of my strength and speed, for all of my efforts; I could not stop those phones from ringing. I suppose for the ones who called those numbers, these phones will ring forever.
Opening my eyes, I look at one of the creatures that caused these phones to begin ringing.